What Makes Someone A “Slut”?

We watched the Anna Faris movie What’s Your Number? last night. It’s a pretty hip movie in that it way more accurately depicts aspects of 20-somethingness than typical Hollywood. I’ve never seen a movie before wherein the main female acknowledges that she likes to have sex but feels societal pressure to maintain some semblance of virginal femininity.

The basic premise of the movie is that Anna reads an article about women who sleep around which claims that women with 20 or more partners can never get married. Because she’s enjoyed dating and sex, she’s already hit that number and therefore decides to hunt down her exes so she can date people and try to get married without adding to her number. In a “twist ending” her friends initially disapprove of her love interest because “he’s the kind of guy you sleep with, not marry.”

It got me thinking — and I’m really the last person to say this — but the stereotype is two-sided. For instance I can’t imagine not dissuading one of my friends from seriously dating a bartender or waiter because categorically, they’re really, really slutty. But aren’t we past that sex-shaming stuff? At what point is someone’s enthusiasm for sex and dating none of your business and when is it something you should take under consideration?

So when does sexual behavior give you valuable information about someone? Never? Surely that’s going too far. If someone tells you they’ve had sex with hundreds of people, there are things you can reasonably deduce. The question isn’t whether this says something about the person, it’s what it says and whether it makes them unworthy of dating. If someone has only slept with a few people, they’ve probably been in a bunch of two-year-long relationships that kept them from sleeping around.

I get worried about dating people who are serial monogamists because I feel kind of gross about how they need someone in their life and it could be me or it could be the next girl but it doesn’t matter so long as it’s a warm body. At its core this is a problem about worrying about someone’s emotional authenticity, not being concerned about their lasciviousness. By the same principle, if someone told me they’d slept with tons of people at the very beginning of a relationship I’d be concerned they were just into the chase and wanted to hit it and quit it. Neither of these things, if proven wrong through getting to know someone would affect how I feel about their value as a partner. So maybe it’s not the number, it’s the attitude. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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